Home Movie Vault Disc Vault Coming Soon Join Our Mailing List Articles About Us Contest Soundtrack Books eStore

  Publicity Stills of
"A Frozen Flower"
(Courtesy of Festive Films)

In Korean with English & Chinese subtitles
Director: Ha Yu
Cast: Jo In-sung, Joo Jin-mo, Song Ji-hyo, Shim Ji-ho, Im Ju-hwan, Ye Wook hwan, Song Joong Gi, Jang Ji Won, Kim Choon Gi, Lee Jong Goo, Kwon Tae Won
RunTime: 2 hrs 12 mins
Released By: Festive Films & Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: R21 (Sexual Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.festivefilms.com/

Opening Day: 23 July 2009


In the end of Goryeo era politically manipulated by the Yuan Dynasty, the ambitious King of the Goryeo Dynasty organizes Kunryongwe. Hong Lim, the commander of Kunryongwe, captivates the King of Goryeo, and the Queen keeps her eyes on the relationship between Hong Lim and the King with a reluctant view.

Meanwhile, the bilateral relation between Goryeo and the Yuan gets worse as Yuan demands to install the cousin of the King in the Crown Prince of Goryeo with ascribing it to no son the King has. The King refuses it resolutely, so the high-ranking officials of Goryeo, who are in submission to Yuan, are discontented with the king.

One day, the King gives Hong Lim a covert yet unobjectionable order to sleep with the Queen instead of himself to protect the independence of Goryeo from the Yuan by making a son, the successor to Goryeo throne.

Movie Review:

"A Frozen Flower" marks writer-director Ha Yu's first attempt in making a historical drama while pushing the boundaries for Korean cinema in the field of mainstream adult entertainment. In what he calls 'a love story between men', we have a film that revolves around an abnormal but no less complicated love triangle set in ancient Korea. Coupled with top-notch martial arts sequences, eye-pleasing costume and set designs, the film seems set to be on par with other epic Hong Kong and China films, but what separates it from the rest is its controversial storyline which has a stronger impact when one realizes that it is based on a true story in the Korean Goryeo era.

As the story begins, we are introduced to the trio consisting of the nameless King of the Goryeo Dynasty (Joo Jin-mo), his likewise nameless Queen (Song Ji-hyo) who is a native from the Yuan Dynasty and Hong Lim (Jo In-sung), commander of the royal guards known as Kunryongwe. Beneath the royal marriage lies an intimate relationship between the King and Hong Lim which leaves the Queen as a wife in name only. Things get more intense when the manipulative Yuan Dynasty intends to appoint the King's cousin as the rightful ruler of Goryeo unless the King has an heir to his throne, therefore prompting the King to give out an unorthodox order to Hong Lim: produce a son with the Queen so that Goryeo will not be taken over by the Yuan.

With a plot that does not seem out of place in a Hong Kong Category III movie, one can be forgiven for thinking this is a film that sells itself solely through its erotic scenes. While it is true to a certain extent, there are still other pulling factors to be found. At its essence, the film explores the turmoils of a relationship between two individuals when one of them starts to develop feelings for the other's partner under the circumstances. Jealousy and betrayal rear their ugly heads, causing lovers to become bitter enemies. In a typical melodrama, this is a commonly portrayed scenario. However, "A Frozen Flower" provides a different take by setting the couple in question as two gay men with ancient Korea as the backdrop. Some viewers may notice the film's similarity with "Brokeback Mountain", but the level of intensity in this Korean flick is way higher than Ang Lee's acclaimed film especially when violence comes into play, since we do get several sequences of blood-spilling mayhem scattered throughout the film.

The three main actors deliver solid performances, not only in terms of dramatic acting, but in overcoming the challenge of sex and nudity as well. Jo In-sung seems to have the toughest task in displaying the widest range of emotions in addition to learning martial arts, horse riding, fencing and the geomungo, which is a traditional Korean stringed musical instrument similar to the Chinese zither. Let's not forget he has to be involved in sex scenes with either Joo Jin-mo or Song Ji-hyo too. His dedication is attributed to his admiration for director Ha Yu which began from their previous collaboration in "A Dirty Carnival". Joo Jin-mo is vicious enough to earn the viewers' hatred but his performance can be wooden at times for constantly showing the same few expressions in the entire film. Having previously appeared in "Sex is Zero 2", another R21-rated Korean film, Song Ji-hyo has risen to the challenge of tackling a historical drama successfully right after a wacky comedy. Her portrayal of the suffering Queen is indeed compelling without being over-the-top.

To answer perhaps the most frequently asked question regarding the film: yes, the sex scenes are for the most part tastefully done. The scene that has the highest expectation among the audience is surely the one involving Jo In-sung and Joo Jin-mo. As hyped as it can be, the scene actually lasts for about a minute and is only seen once in the entire film. The rest of them comprise those with Jo In-sung and Song Ji-hyo, which are acceptable even though they do not push the envelope as much as "Lust Caution" did. According to the IMDB.com website, the version of "A Frozen Flower" that we see in Singapore is an edited one, so whether or not there are scenes that got snipped by the folks at the censorship board is anyone's guess.

As much as the film is about controversial scenarios, it is still a simplistic tale of love and hate. Character development is barely emphasized here, what with the one-dimensional presentation of the King as an outright villain for most of the film. The transition from hate to love between Hong Lim and the Queen is also handled rather abruptly without much buildup, as if Ha Yu assumes we will accept it on the spot. The 'wu-xia' or Chinese martial arts fighters inspired violence further adds to the film's comic book feel too.

Despite its flaws, "A Frozen Flower", which takes its title from a Goryeo era song describing the sexual relationships between men and women, is still an entertaining effort to come out of Ha Yu's production line. It will definitely be remembered for the milestone it sets in providing Korean cinema's answer to "Brokeback Mountain" as well as being a breakthrough in Korean epic films.

Movie Rating:

(Ancient melodramatic love triangle involving two gay men and a woman that is made more appealing by the right mix of sex and violence)

Review by Tan Heng Hau


. Hwang Jin Yi (2007)

. The King and the Clown (2006)


DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004- , movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.